Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The RBI Report: "Silly Love Songs"

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession to make.  

I really loved this episode.  After "Duets," it might be favorite of the season.  Was I expecting this?  Not at all.  But nonetheless, "Silly Love Songs" worked its way into my heart fairly easily.  Let's break it down, shall we?

"Silly Love Songs," written by Ryan Murphy and directed by Tate Donovan.

I won't lie; a Glee Valentine's Day episode had me nervous.  This show swaps romantic partners more frequently than Emma Pillsbury washes her hands.  What on earth would a Valentine's episode bring us?  I was scared - especially when the show referenced its own "love pentagon" before the episode even began.

But truthfully, I was rather impressed with it.  Each of the relationships presented was progressed purposefully and effectively, and much of what went down either interested me, intrigued me, or just flat-out made me laugh - in a good way. 

How much do I love Puck and Lauren?  These two have officially won my heart.  I love that the writers decided to turn their dynamic on its ear.  Even though it was Lauren who initiated the interest, she was not impressed by Puckzilla.  She can't get those three minutes back!  So now it's Puck who's doing the pursuing.  How great is that?  And can we get a round of applause for Lauren Zizes?  She is quickly becoming the show's ultimate truth-teller.  She was honest with Puck, but not cruel.  She was vulnerable, self-confident, hilarious, and intelligent.  The writers did a great job making her a three-dimensional character.  And seeing Puck be so earnest and engaged in anything that's not criminal activity is just darling. 

More than that, their storyline was handled so charmingly.  It made me sad that she stood him up and that he made out with that waitress with Daddy Issues, but I totally understand why things happened that way.  I love that Lauren wants something serious and communicated that.  And that Puck is willing to step up!  Their interactions in the last scene at Breadstix were so adorable.  Oh, swoon.  I am officially hanging on their every action.

Another couple to get some attention tonight were Kurt and Blaine.  I have to say, the one thing that has kept me from being truly engaged in the Kurt/Blaine storyline is the fact that Blaine has been pretty two-dimensional.  We saw him only through Kurt's eyes - as a private school stud, only the object of our affections.  Well, that changed tonight, and I loved it.

Of course, Blaine having a crush that he didn't identify at first made me immediately suspicious of the fact that it wasn't Kurt.  And it wasn't - which, I maintain, was a good thing.  How boring would it be if Kurt liked Blaine and then Blaine liked Kurt and then they sang about it and everybody was happy?  It'd be damn cute, but it's certainly more interesting to have Blaine's eye on someone else - even if that boy's hair was questionably coiffed.  

Essentially, "Silly Love Songs" took Blaine and made him Kurt for an episode.  He was hopelessly devoted to the idea of serenading the object of his affection, and wasn't really aware of the potentially embarrassing social implications.  It was darling to see Blaine so insecure, and it was even more darling to see him admit it to Kurt.  I love when Glee pulls the rug out from under us and acknowledges the fact that singing to people is not always a realistic solution.  They do live in Ohio, after all, and I've loved every moment that the show has reminded us of that.  (Remember the "Sectionals" judging panel and how much they didn't give a crap?  Love it.)  But most of all, I love that Kurt was honest with Blaine about his own feelings, without being obsessive about the situation.  I am officially on board with their dynamic and am curious to see what will happen next.

Okay, we're rounding the corner into the areas where I'm not quite as quick to get all gushy: addressing the issue of Finn and Quinn, and Santana.  These three were provided a lot of material this episode, and I'm on the fence with how a lot of it was carried out.  

Of course, I was bracing myself for the rekindling of the Finn/Quinn romance.  I was not on board with how it played out in last week's episode, and I feared that their dynamic would match it this week.  The reality of the situation?  Well, I'm torn.  To be honest, I found the scene in the auditorium fascinating.  Finn and Quinn having a conversation about the definitions and implications of cheating?  Enthralled, party of one!  

And I love even more that Quinn is not quite getting dragged through the mud here.  She's not delusional about the situation - unlike Finn, I would say.  She pointed out to him the double standard about Finn's previous history with being cheated on, and questioned the somewhat naive (in my opinion) idea that loving someone stops you from cheating.  Even though I may grouse sometimes about the material Quinn's given, I must stop and be grateful for the fact that she's turned out to be something of an old soul.  She was looking at records in this episode!  And she's intelligent and a bit world-weary and she usually knows what's up.  I was relieved to see that "Silly Love Songs" didn't take that away from her.

As for Finn, well... I go around and around on this debate.  I think a reconnection with Quinn is an interesting development to explore.  The idea that these two are communicating in something of an adult way about the nature of love and relationships piques my interest.  There's a lot of things these two should be saying to each other about their past.  But the only word I can use to describe the execution is... confused.  The writers are making Finn confused, which I think makes the writers confused, which in turn makes me confused.  It's frustrating.  I don't really jive with Finn's self-congratulation about the football triumph (and clearly, Mercedes doesn't either - ha!) and I'm not sure what the show was trying to prove with their sappy piano-music moment where Finn gave Rachel her leftover Christmas (not Hanukkah) present, or with his silence when asked if he felt fireworks when kissing Rachel.

I also feel the need to address Santana's participation in this episode, and the question of concept vs. execution.  I think, in general, the writers have the right idea with Santana.  While Mercedes showed that she's okay not having a significant other (go girl!), I think Santana is perhaps secretly the opposite.  It's not necessarily that Santana wants a boyfriend or girlfriend, but I think she desperately wants to be loved.  Hell if she's going to admit it, but I think it's true.  Highlighting her destructive behavior in the Valentine's Day episode is not a coincidence.  Ms. Lopez has issues of self-worth and being loved, and I love that about her.  It seems clear to me that the writers know that - most of the time.

But I'm not sure they're developing it in the best way possible.  They're trying to move Santana forward by having the other characters bring her down a peg, and having her desperately make attempts at ruining other people's relationships.  I don't think either is really necessary.  I don't think the group lashing out at Santana was unjustified, nor do I think it out of character that Santana would try to ruin Puck and Lauren and Finn and Quinn.  But I do think the writers needed to add a scene to make it all cohesive.

To paraphrase Blaine from earlier in this episode - I think we need to get Santana alone.  And not with Brittany, as much as I love to see them together.  Santana needs to be treated with an ounce of empathy, and I don't think the over-the-top sobbing-in-the-hallway scene quite cut the mustard.  Every moment with Santana, including that scene, was played for comedy, when in reality it should have been a little more balanced.  I wanted a scene where we see a vulnerable, honest Santana, where we might get a glimpse into what's going on underneath her armor.  I want it to be abundantly clear that Santana Lopez wants more than anything to be loved, even if she'll never admit it.  I don't care of she cries in a mirror a la Rachel Berry - it would make me feel a solid ton of sympathy for her, and that's important.  I don't think the writers are correct in the assessment that Santana just likes to tell people when they suck.  

Santana has some serious, deep-seated issues with self-worth.  And what better way to lash out at love than to destroy it in others?  The writers have danced around this interpretation (see: boob job) and I think that if they just confronted it directly, the character and the show would be much better for it.  Santana doesn't have to stop being a bitch.  But we have to understand why she is, and bonus points if the other characters on the show make the effort to do the same.  That little bit of empathy is really what is lacking in Santana's current development, and the sooner we get Santana alone, the sooner we'll achieve that.

Even despite that little puzzle piece missing, I really loved this episode.  Even the peripheral interactions were spectacular.  Can I give Tina Cohen-Chang the biggest hug in the world for cry-singing "My Funny Valentine?"  Oh, my goodness.  I couldn't stop laughing.  And Mike and Artie doing "PYT" was nothing short of awesome.  I'm fairly certain Harry Shum Jr. and Kevin McHale were designed to team up and sing/dance Michael Jackson.  Although - quibble alert! - I don't think it should have been in slow-motion.  Bet Kevin had a fun time trying to lip-sync in slow-motion when they were shooting it.  I just don't think it was necessary to go all slow for the entire part in the hallway.  But that's a tiny directing complaint.  (I'm also going to take this moment to file a quibble about the actual fireworks they showed when Finn and Quinn kissed.  Necessary?  Eh.)

And, I truly, truly hope that The Original Rachel Berry is back for good.  I don't like seeing her fawning over a relationship - any relationship.  I think Rachel Berry/Bedazzled Hairbrush/Mirror might be my OT3.  And how much did I love that she had friends this episode?  Oh, the sleepover scene was a thing of beauty.  Mercedes delivered some kickass truths to Rachel and Kurt about being boy-crazy, and then they snuggled.  Perfection.  Almost as perfect as Santana using the phrases, "A'fores I end you," and "That's a capital idea!"  Oh, and her joke about her mono becoming stereo!  Oh my goodness.  A verbally adroit Santana Lopez wins my heart 10 out of 10 times.

All in all, I really enjoyed this episode.  The dialogue was sharp, witty, and honest.  The major developments happened naturally, and they all were anchored in character interactions.  That's all I ever really want when I watch Glee.  Well, that, and good musical numbers.  And dance numbers.  Okay fine; I'm really greedy when it comes to this show.  But I know that the show is capable of these things, despite some of their more recent efforts, and I'm so happy that "Silly Love Songs" delivered.

The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: A
Dance Numbers: A
Dialogue: A+
Plot: A
Episode MVP: Lauren Zizes.


  1. Another great report! Seriously, are you reading my mind or what? haha

    I agree with you especially on those Finn, Quinn, and Santana moments. I was so torn on how to feel during that Finn/Quinn scene in the auditorium. I mean, c'mon writers, Finn was JUST telling Rachel how hurt he was by cheating and now he's cheating with Quinn?! Maybe it's just a testament to Cory and Dianna's acting chops that I was actually listening to them discuss cheating in an intelligent (and kinda sexy) way haha I didn't know whether to shake my head or become enthralled at their sexual banter.

    Also, the Santana issue is actually something I've noticed for Brittany, Tina, Mercedes, and a little for Artie too. I LOVE mean, bitchy Santana and she is getting more hilarious by the episode. But as they use her more and more for comedic purposes, I'm unsure of how well-rounded I want her character to be. But I agree, just one short scene displaying Santana's vulnerability would've been enough. My concerns with Santana definitely apply to Brittany. I love her ditzy one-liners but it just started occuring to me that the more naive and childlike they make her character, the more weird and morally fishy I feel about her also being characterized as a slut. I think Brittany is much better as a shallow (but hilarious) character with awesome dance moves and awkward sexual moments. Alas, if only Brittany went back to talking about gay sharks XD

    But really, how AWESOME is Lauren? I really love how well-rounded the writers have made her so KUDOS for not making her another Jacob Israel punchline.

    Overall, I disagree about the episode and didn't think this was the best of Season 2 (I'm been so unevenly happy with Glee I haven't chosen a best episode yet.) But honestly, the jokes were hilarious and I loved all of the musical numbers, so what more can I ask of Glee?

    Still, if only RIB understood CONSISTENT characterization....

  2. Shelby - haha, thanks! I'm so close to loving what they're doing with Finn and Quinn and Santana, and yet things are just slightly off and it's so frustrating.

    I think on the whole it's difficult to bring a background character to the foreground, and usually, IMO, Glee's pretty successful at this. I mean, look at Lauren! And in general, I appreciate what they're doing with Santana and Brittany - aside from the Santana problems I mentioned and the Brittany problems you mentioned. And while I definitely understand why it might be better to just stick to the successful background material, I'm going to always want the chance for a character to have more dimensions in the forefront. Even if the writers screw it up, y'know? I just really want all the characters to get a chance to be multi-layered.

    But... I'm also never gonna say no to Brittany talking about gay sharks. :)

  3. The fireworks they showed when Finn and Quinn kissed has no organic bearing on Finn/Quinn. It was just a lead in for them to have Rachel sing Katy Perry's Fireworks. It went #1 on i-Tunes, their strategy earned them a lot of money.

  4. Kathy C - Yeah, I getcha. I just think it was kind of a tacky directing choice to insert actual firework footage in there. But they got their point across, so that's at least a good thing!

  5. Hi Dr!
    I have to disagree with you this time. I found the episode poorly handled and there were certain moments I just hated. Basically two:
    -Santana and Lauren's fight. It was demenaning to Santana, and the fact that it was supposed to be comedic made it even more annoying for me. Santana's character is being mistreated. Yes, she's a bitch, but she's a person as well, and there *has* to be some good in her, or at least some reason for her to be like that. Your theory about she having a big need for affection is interesting and would fit perfectly, but the trouble is I don't think the writers are conveying it, or at least correctly. As you point out, her scene crying in the corridir was played for laughs and had no emotional resonance whatsoever. It would have been so easy to show her alone in the bathroom crying her heart out. But what we have instead is this tasteless fight in which she is thrown around and smashed against the lockers.

    -My second complaint is, as usual, Tina's treatment. Yet another incomplete solo, recorded "live" (I mean, accapella and with no studio post-production, no background music, etc.). I found her breakdown inconsequential, arbitrary. OK so she really loves Mike, that's sweet, it's just that this scene is just tacked in the middle of the episode with no previous background or later consequences. Substite her for Rachel and you'll inmediately notice how differently their characters are treated. If this was Rachel (or Kurt), the reason for her breakdown would be studied in detail and the whole thing would be interwoven with the rest of the episode, unlike here. Frankly, I'm starting to think Ryan Murphy doesn't like Jenna and the few lines and solos he gives her are the minimum requirements of her contract. She is supposed to be a main character and Blaine a supporting one, yet he's the one to receive two (TWO!) full solos in a single chapter and tons of lines and involvement in the main ploty lines.

    I just hope some new script writer joined the team and fixed all the silly issues Glee has. Frankly it's the first time I see a supposed-to-be-ensemble-cast beaing handled so unevenly.


  6. Hi Ronan! So, I don't necessarily disagree with you on your points. Especially #1. I hate that Santana's fight with Lauren was played for comedy. That, to me, was truly the worst part of the episode, and I wish the writers would loosen their grip on using Santana purely for laughs and see that we need to empathize with her. So I completely agree with you there.

    As for #2, well... I agree 100% that Jenna and Tina need to be better represented in the show. But her breakdown moment didn't really bother me. Mostly, it made me laugh, and I really think (hope?) it was supposed to. And furthermore, it gave Jenna/Tina screentime, which I will never say no to, haha. Do I want more? Sure. Do I want it to be embedded in the plot? Most definitely. But at this point I'll take what I can get. Honestly, "Silly Love Songs" was more ensemble than it's been in recent episodes, so I'll count it as progress, even if it's only a little bit. But I totally see where you're coming from, for sure.


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